Saturday, February 25, 2017

Ethnic Joke

You know what you call a Jewish guy who tells jokes based on negative ethnic stereotypes?

An asshole bigot. 

Mardi Gras, Non Merci

Lent in Western Europe starts on Ash Wednesday, in the Orthodox tradition it starts on Clean Monday, two days earlier.  I've never much cared for Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, certainly not in the United States where few holidays or the equivalent are safe from getting disgustingly out of hand. So, for a change, I'm starting Lent on Monday.   I'm giving up several things.  One of them will make a big difference here.  You'll see.

Second Feature - James W. Nichol - Midnight Cab - The Mystery Of The Long Lost Brother

That short video I posted the other day of James W. Nichol talking about his fine novel Transgression was especially interesting because he talked about books in that genre being heavily plot driven with the temptation for the author to move the characters around on a chess board.  He talked about how, instead, he'd tried to move the story out of the characters and what they would do.  It was one of the things I admired about all three of his novels, that the characters were so individual and believable and different from each other.  Especially impressive to me was how well he created the characters of the women.  Krista in Midnight Cab, Adele in Transgression.  

I have to wonder, since he started writing novels relatively late in his life how his long career as a dramatist, especially the many characters he invented for his radio dramas might have taught him how to do that.  It certainly helped with the dialog, which I thought was especially believable. Compared to the other books I've read this year, I didn't find any notes that seemed off.  

Maybe if I were younger and I thought of taking up writing fiction I'd start by writing half-hour plays. I'd think it would be good training and a good way to find out if you were any good at it.  But I didn't do that.  I'm not a writer.  I am a reader and a listener.  

Have another.

I also like Inspector Kiss and, of course, Walker.  

Note:  I have an ulterior motive in posting the Willa Cather story below.  I will write about that in two weeks.  I'm curious to see if anyone guesses what that was. 

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Willa Cather - The Affair At Grover Station adapted by Jonathan Holloway

I'd prefer to post original dramas instead of adaptations but this one is worth listening to.  I think the production was pretty good, using sound well.  

Here is the original short story.  It was originally published in two parts.

Part 1

Part 2

A Literate Pope Can't Be Understood By Post-Literates Who Don't Care What He Said

I had, actually, read about Pope Francis' homily which is being peddled as an endorsement of atheism.  What it was was a condemnation of Catholics who make a pose and show of Christianity while leading lives that are the exact opposite of it.  Here is the paragraph that is being clipped is taken from:

But what is scandal? Scandal is saying one thing and doing another; it is a double life, a double life. A totally double life: ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this association and that one; but my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my workers a just wage, I exploit people, I am dirty in my business, I launder money…’ A double life. And so many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others. How many times have we heard – all of us, around the neighbourhood and elsewhere – ‘but to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist.’ It is that, scandal. You destroy. You beat down. And this happens every day, it’s enough to see the news on TV, or to read the papers. In the papers there are so many scandals, and there is also the great publicity of the scandals. And with the scandals there is destruction.

I don't think pointing out that Catholics that are hypocrites, doing injustice which leads to "scandal" do more harm to the reputation of the Catholic church than atheists is exactly an endorsement of atheism, it is slamming hypocrites in the church as being worse than atheists.

I might be reading too much into the statement but wonder if this has something to do with the scandal of the war that a clique of cardinals, especially the putrid Raymond Cardinal Burke, have all but declared against Pope Francis but, considering the role that Burke has had in the scandals surrounding the Knights of Malta, which came to a head last month, it's a good example of that kind of scandal.  I haven't found the entire homily but these two excerpts given in the Vatican report of it are worth reading.

Jesus talks, in the Gospel, about those who commit scandal, without saying the world ‘scandal,’ but it’s understood: But you will arrive in heaven and you will knock at the gate: ‘Here I am, Lord!’ – ‘But don’t you remember? I went to Church, I was close to you, I belong to this association, I did this… Don’t you remember all the offerings I made?’ ‘Yes, I remember. The offerings, I remember them: All dirty. All stolen from the poor. I don’t know you.’ That will be Jesus’ response to these scandalous people who live a double life.

“It would be good for all of us, each one of us, today, to consider if there is something of a double life within us, of appearing just, of seeming to be good believers, good Catholics, but underneath doing something else; if there is something of a double life, if there is an excessive confidence: ‘But, sure, the Lord will eventually forgive everything, but I’ll keep going as I have been…’ If there is something saying, “Sure, this is not going well, I will convert, but not today: tomorrow.’ Let’s think about that. And let us profit from the Word of the Lord and consider the fact that on this point, the Lord is very strict. Scandal destroys.”

Leave it to the American media and the illiterates of  blog babble to pull out one clause which they distort because they're really not interested in the rest of the homily that gives that clause its meaning. We've got a literate Pope addressing a post-literate world.

My Attention Is Called To this

Did you ever see Sophie's Choice? And the lovely home the commandant of Auschwitz had, in the center of the camp?

    Well, now we know Simps never read Sophie's Choice or, apparently, saw the movie. Meryl Streep was, of course, great but the book was better.  I'd suggest he do that but he doesn't read.  And we know that Duncan Black doesn't care if his blog is used to post libel.  Duncan Black is such an a-hole.

    Update:  After going over the same old ground, in which Simels reveals, as I noted, that he had no idea what the plot of Sophie's Choice was, he has fallen back on that same old anti-Polish, anti-Catholic line of bigotry that is typical of so many like him.  I suspect that line came from asshole, post-war lefties under the influence of Stalinists, only he's such a third rate mind he probably got it from the cheapest of crap scribbling and media.   He just posted a really disgusting anti-Polish joke which is the last straw.  

    You know, someone who is so stupid that he can't even watch the movie as he pretends to have seen it isn't even a third rater, he's a Z lister.

    Hate Mail - Examples Of Depravity Posing As Liberty

    An idiot challenges me on my condemnation of the idea that it might be a good thing to burn de Sade. On which, I repeat,  if burning every last copy of every single word written by and about de Sade were possible and if by doing that all or even a good measure of the sexual abuse of people and animals in the word would be abolished, I'd strike the match to set it on fire and I would think it was probably the most worthy act I'd ever committed.  If de Sade were not a writer who had championed a particularly anti-egalitarian, elitist wet dream of domination and submission with ejaculation, no one in the world would ever read anything he wrote.  Having read some of him in the original, he was a crap writer.  You can say the same about Henry Miller, Hubert Selby jr. and a number of other writers celebrated as icons of free speechiness.  It's telling that when you reduce free speech to an automatic reflex instead of considering it within a context of its real existence in the real world, you'll use it to champion ass end, sludge dwelling expression.

    The liberalish-libertarian defense of sado-masochism and such related sexual practices as bondage and discipline is the language of market economics, as a contractual agreement between an abuser and the abused.   As I just stated, such an analysis is so reductively simplistic that it willfully ignores that it is essentially the pro-slavery argument that slaves were happy in their enslavement.  Such slaves as might have been reduced to such an abject state by the terror campaign of the slave power are rightly seen as having their minds and spirits damaged by it.  In the same way someone who would submit to their own degradation, abuse, torture, and injury aren't exhibiting any form of liberty or freedom, they are exhibiting mental illness.  And what you say for them goes as much for the person who is sexually stimulated by inflicting the harm on someone for their self-deification.

    In all such dishonest libertarian discourse, there is a simple test that will demonstrate that the person saying it is lying about what they're claiming.  Would they be OK with being the object of sadistic sex abuse, themselves, would they be OK with their loved ones being used like that or even merely expressing the wish to be used that way?  Would their well-beloved child being conned into such a relationship be OK with them, their mother or father, their sister or brother?  That is assuming such people as who defend S&M and B&D are capable of normal human love of anyone other than themselves.   It's the same question I've asked in relationship to the prostitution and porn industries.  To date I've only had one person claim they would be OK with that and he was lying about it because he expressed outrage, elsewhere over my pointing out that he said he was OK with his own girlfriend being recruited into prostitution.  If what he claimed were true, that it was perfectly OK with him, then he wouldn't have expressed outrage at me pointing that out.

    Libertarians, ESPECIALLY THE LIBERALISH TYPE, are addicted to lying, covering up the morally unacceptable with verbiage such as the translation of even the most grotesque inequality and abusive practices with market-economics blather.   That such blather arose in the very 18th-19th century atheist-materialist "enlightenment" that de Sade and those who abetted and identified him as a champion and icon of liberty constructed is certainly no accident.  That their literary hero was a man whose entire reputation in literature is based in the denial of  equality, in respecting the dignity of other people or even restraining their lust for perverted sex to the extent that they killed people to get off is, as well, a symptom of a massively present mental illness and of habitual lying.

    Most of all it gives weight to my observation that people who don't believe in sin will have no qualms about lying.   There was something basically wrong with the "enlightenment" just as will, with time, become apparent with any humanly constructed ideology.   I think that the horrific flaws of that movement are based in their arrogantly naive materialism and assumptions about the total efficacy of scientific method.  They might have had ignorance of the consequences of those as a partial claim of innocence, after the discoveries of physics, mathematics, logic, the experience of the biology based genocides of the 20th century, we don't get off on a claim of ignorance.  That is especially true of people who claim to have an education, who have access to that information but who choose to ignore it.  Or who, through laziness or ideological predilection don't bother to find that out.

    But you don't have to have read the formal literature of formal logic or be familiar with things such as the uncertainty principle to understand that hurting someone "to pleasure" yourself is wrong and must be prevented from happening.  They knew that back when they wrote the Mosaic books of the Bible.

    I Wonder If Anyone Checked Last Nights Spell Casting Against some Randon Numbers Generators

    It is a pity that the several atheists who troll me the most are uniformly idiots who won't read anything that's complex and, with an exception or two, are entirely innumerate (one doesn't seem to quite understand how time works, as well).  Most of all, they won't read anything that might shake their stodgy, moldy 19th century atheist faith.   It's a pity because, apropos of the Witches casting a binding spell on Donald Trump, there is scientific research that indicates that organized group meditation towards a similar goal can have an effect on physical phenomena.  From the conclusions:

    Our predictions for the meditation data, yogic flying and Vedic observatory data were significantly supported and were in the predicted direction. Our work adds to the premise that certain activities that foster transcendental experiences(Alexander & Langer, 1990; Mason et al, 1997; Orme-Johnson et al., 1988; Travis et al, 2002) may reflect a more decreasing directional trend (increased proportion of zeros) in RNG outputs. Alternative explanations do not clearly account for the observed results. The results were still significant even after controlling for a possible cumulative drift of the mean from an unknown source. 

    To our knowledge this is the first experiment with specific predictions for the direction of a mean shift, and it involves the largest number of synchronized meditations recorded with a local RNG on site. Having a population doing a standardized mental technique on a regular basis is advantageous in studying various aspects of the phenomenon. Further research appears warranted to explore group meditation as a venue for anomalous results with the RNG. Future research could test the direction of the results, distance effects from the group, possible lag or entrainment effects, experimenter effect, non-xoring data techniques, group size effects, number of RNGs and possible auxiliary factors. Theoretical questions could include a continued inquiry (Hagelin, 1987; Nader, 2000; Nelson, 2002d; Radin, 2002; Routt, 2005) as to whether or not consciousness is a causal factor.

    What is the possible practical contributions and application of this research? It is conceivable that RNGs could be used to indicate directional changes in a proposed global collective consciousness. Just as changes in seismic meters are used to detect high and low indications of impending earthquakes, RNG outputs could warn us of changes in collective consciousness while considering any anticipatory effects. RNGs could also be employed to evaluate preventive and ameliorative measures that utilize collective consciousness. For example, the RNG could evaluate the efficacy of various technologies from many traditions , including group meditations to reduce collective stress in global consciousnessin order to prevent and reduce local and global tragedies.

    "RNG" stands for random numbers generator. 

    Reading through the paper, much of which I will admit I didn't more than understand generally, especially the technical discussion of random number generator functioning, it is impressive how much more carefully planned and controlled and corrected for possible, not even demonstrated but possible problems influencing the results such studies are than your typical published study in psychology or sociology or, as the report from Nature I wrote about the other day, even some physiological studies that are published and extended into such nonsense in the pop press. 

    But what will drive the materialists up a wall is that even when their objections are accounted for, the results achieve statistical significance, in some cases a very high level of statistical significance.  And, far more impressive than the pseudo-skeptical, atheist ideological response to this, even within the report of the results, the researchers are open to exploring the possibility of alternative explanations whereas the atheists will never, ever do that because it would shake their religious faith. 

    I will point out that there is also quite interesting research on the apparent effect of massively watched or listened to events, such as delivering the verdict in the OJ case, which also records a statistically significant difference in the functioning of random numbers generators.  But I wanted to address intentional conscious activities as possibly having an effect on the physical world.  

    Friday, February 24, 2017

    An elderly pop music critic, 
    His columns, all copies, eidetic,
    When seeing alternative
    Thoughts, new, not derivative
    Became quite unhinged and splenetic.

    Hate Mail - A Poem

    While formerly sprinkled with wits
    But now such have all called it quits,
    Baby Blue fades to dun, can
    It be other spun than
    Esch'ton's a collection of eejits. 

    Bud Powell - Anthropology

    Bud Powell, piano
    Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, bass
    Jorn Elniff, drums

    Live from Café Montmartre, Copenhagen, early 1962

    Update:  Tempus Fugit 

    Bud Powell, piano
    Ray Brown, bass
    Max Roach, drums

    What Do You Think About The Witches Binding Spell?

    I read about it and certainly support the goals, to block him from doing any harm to people or the environment, to thwart him in his evil doing, to get him and his crime regime out of office.   Will it work?  Have no idea.  As long as they follow their commandment to do no harm, I can't see anything wrong with it.  If it seems to work, I'll be impressed.

    If I have insomnia at midnight, EST tonight,  I might throw a little meditation into the mix.    We are told to love our enemies and pray for them.  I can't claim to succeed in the first part of it, at all, but I can try to do the second part.  Isn't it part of asking to "deliver us from evil" to ask that the evil not happen?   I've even got a white and an orange candle stub.  No Tarot card, though, they seem too negative to my liking.  I wonder if I drew one if it would count.

    Will it cover Bannon and Sessions and Miller etc?

    I Like That, Maybe I'll Make It My New Motto

    The Tree of Democracy Needs To Be Fed From Time To Time With The Ashes of Inequality 

    Sexual Libertinism Is All About The Exercise of Unequal Power*

    Have I mentioned that I dislike Bill Maher, have always disliked him and consider his political orientation to be pseudo-liberalism?   The liberalish-libertarianism I've described a number of times? I mean have I said that in the past 24 hours?  His is a political orientation that champions such stuff as "free speech - free press" absolutism even if it ends up destroying the rights of other people and, as we see in the phenomenon of Trump, destroying the possibility of egalitarian democracy?   I have written about how the phenomenon has a long history, going back at least to the 18th century when some of its most troublesome ideas were written into our Constitution, which have been useful for giving us Trump and Republican-fascism, as well.

    One of the most obvious ways this pseudo-liberalism surfaces is in the kinds of sexual relationships in which inequality is either asserted or built into the relationship through the facts of things like age, feelings of male entitlement, of the feeling that someone who can assert power over someone who they can oppress has a right to do that through anything from subtle manipulation to outright violence.  Or mental illness.  Or the mere refusal to acknowledge the rights of someone you are in a position to violate.  Such sexual relationships share a lot in common with the attitudes that those who are "naturally superior" have a right to exploit, use, damage and oppress those who are weaker, less intelligent, or merely poorer than those in an economic, social or intellectual position to do so.  What capitalism means in reality instead of idealized theory.

    That both kinds of exploitation were championed in the so-called "enlightenment" and in what came to, so often, be called "liberalism" so as to confuse it with the older liberalism which was all about equal rights and the equally held moral obligation to respect those, is something that still burdens genuine liberalism.

    I hold that the pseudo-liberalism of the 18th century really isn't much different from what is called and calls itself "conservatism" or "the right" in even its extreme forms.  I think that's how someone like Bill Maher can have on someone like Milo Yiannopoulos and find so much common ground with them, the two really aren't opposites, they are fraternal if not identical twins.  As it turns out, the issue of adults having sex with even quite young children is something Maher has waxed supportive of, on video.

    But that same attention may now be coming to Maher, as a 19-year-old clip from his former ABC talk show, “Politically Incorrect,” resurfaced earlier this week. The clip features Maher defending Mary Kay Letourneau, a teacher convicted of having sex with a 12-year-old male student. Letourneau and the student went on to have two children together while he was a teenager.

    “She is in jail because she is in love. That’s how I view it,” Maher said in the clip. “Basically, they’re having a family and they’re keeping the mother in jail because she won’t conform to what society feels should be the perfect American family.”

    When challenged on the topic by rock singer Henry Rollins and conservative activist Celeste Grieg, Maher continued on, adding, “How can a woman rape a man?”

    He sounds like a pre-second wave feminist media figure of the kind used to be called a liberal.  It sounds like so many of the male "radicals" I knew who turned into a Hollywood concept of a cro-magnon alpha-male in communes and in political parties as the women-radicals began to have their consciousness of their own rights and worth raised and they started speaking up.  He sounds like your typical liberalish-libertarian when the topic is sex.  Really, Donald Trump, in those days, would have pretty well fit in in many ways.

    Not all atheists who address these issues follow that line, a number of atheists who are feminists don't say that but some, such as de Beauvoir and "sex pos - so-called feminists" often do.  I hate to say it, but such people always seemed like traitors to me, theirs is a "feminism" which will change nothing and leave the boys in charge of sex.

    And far worse is even more often found among gay men who espouse a horrible form of liberation which is, in reality, merely replacing oppression by straight men with that of sadistic, exploitative gay men of other gay men.   That "equality" is no kind of equality it's nothing worth struggling to establish.

    Arguing against that is harder in atheism.  It is virtually impossible if not actually impossible  to come up with the arguments that you need to defeat that, to come up with an effective agrument that you are to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" as a non-negotiable standard of behavior without that being a commandment from God.  Just as any other assertion of equality will run into fatal difficulties when such egalitarian commandments are not the starting point of the discussion.  And that depends on belief, entirely and absolutely not a philosophical exposition.   Any liberalism that doesn't begin with that belief of that moral absolute will, eventually, corrode or melt away through the materialism that will always drift into a dune of self-interest, over time.

    That's what happened to liberalism, in general when it became "secularized" and lost its political effectiveness.  It got conned into that through pseudo-science and the assertions that the thinking of the 18th century men who brought the American and French revolutions were a sufficient replacement for divine Law. I've shocked some such people in the past by saying I had a greater confidence in people who did believe the Golden Rule was an unchangable divine law to understand my equal rights as a gay man than people who believed in 18th century libertarianism.   It's no mere accident that Bill Maher's career got a big push when he marketed his act as a sci-guy atheist in the same vein as George Carlin.  It's also no mere accident that such a guy would get along with Milo Y and find common ground with him in something like adults having sex with children.  No one who advocates that is a liberal, they are a libertine.

    Pseudo-liberalism is an amoral assertion of liberty without regard for the potential of it to turn into an unequal relationship, real liberalism, in the American sense of the word, is all about those who can or could exercise superior positions and power not doing so and, if they are unwilling to restrain themselves in respect to the rights and welfare of the less powerful, to be made to restrain themselves. Liberalism in that sense is bound to be less easy to articulate - and so disadvantaged in the stupider forms of media - and less popular as they include restraints on people doing what they want to do when they can get away with it.  But it is essential for egalitarian democracy and the possibility of a decent life for everyone.  That's as true when it comes to sex as it is in contract law.

    * Or Yes, We Must Burn de Sade If We're Going To Have Real Equality - or The Tree of Democracy Needs To Be Fed With The Ashes of Inequality From Time To Time.

    Thursday, February 23, 2017

    James W. Nichol's Transgression Is An Unusually Fine Book

    Since I wrote a couple of weeks ago about reading the novel "Midnight Cab" by one of my favorite authors of radio drama, James W. Nichol, I've read the other two novels he's published as of now,  Transgression and Death Spiral.  I'm not sure if any of them are currently in print but they all deserve to be, especially Transgression which is an unusually fine book.

    The novel centers on a young girl, Adele George, who, as a 16-year-old seamstress in Rouen, meets a young German Wermacht clerk, Manfred Halder, when she is searching for her father who is missing-in-action.  Her father, a prominent doctor can't be located and the young clerk, who has shot himself so he could avoid combat and who, it turns out, is against the war and Hitler, tries to help her.  Of course, they fall in love and start a love affair.  After they are separated and temporarily reunited, in a complex series of events which Nichol manages to make quite plausible in some very richly described and laid out scenes, they are definitively separated by the Normandy landing and her leaving Rouen after a horrifically described scene of her and other womens' punishment as "horizontal collaborators".   Nichol's ability to recreate a very plausible and very unmasculine mind which seems, to me, to be distinctly French as opposed to German-Polish and English-Canadian is one of the things I found most impressive in the book.  Even within the French characters, he is able to make distinct differences in thinking clear.

    After trying to reunite with Manfred as the war is ending according to a simple but informal means of them meeting up again and failing, Adele goes through many more trials before she is convinced he must be dead.   As she's considering ending her life she meets a nice Canadian soldier, they fall in love, marry and she joins him in Canada.

    It's a rich and complex novel which, as in his other two novels, combines with a parallel narrative in the time when the climax of the action occurs.   When the two threads of narrative meet up the denouement is something I really didn't see coming.  It is quite convincing.

    Of the novels I've read in the past two months, dozens of them as distraction from Trumpian horror, the only ones that match if not, at times exceeding Walter Mosley's for quality are those of Nichol.   I really hope there is more I haven't either come across yet or which are yet to be published.

    In looking into Nichol's work, I came across a Youtube-Amazon comments campaign to vilify him among the self-appointed "Stolen Valor" vigilantes.  I mention it only because if you try to buy copies of his books on Amazon, you're bound to see it.  I don't believe it.   The accusation against him is said, in at least one source I've looked at, the product of a "practical joke" a friend played on him which I find far more believable than that a Canadian who has been a public figure since at least the time he started writing plays c. 1970 was trying to pass himself off as a U.S. Navy Seal.   I couldn't find any claims to that effect in any of the other sources of information I've found about him and I am convinced he is a victim of a smear campaign.  I have come to distrust virtually everything that gets said and passed along in comment threads because I've been smeared that way so often, myself.   I can't say that I'd count that as a mortal sin as compared to the Hollywood - TV - pulp novel deification of the would-be warrior class.  That  is certainly not something that is done in either of Nichol's books dealing with war veterans of WWII.   Considering the treatment of military academies and military culture in his first novel,  Midnight Cab, I don't buy the accusation, at all.  I think the asses who piled on at Amazon are the kind of asses that the internet has shown to be all too plentiful.

    Update:   Here's a video of James W. Nichol talking about the book.

    The Intel Community and the Slow Death of Trump's Presidency

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    The Sci-Rangers Fail To Read The Report - Music Evades Science, Again

    It took some time to get back to the report in Nature magazine that has been translated into claims such as "Bassists Are The Most Important Member Of A Band—According To Science" which, I doubt just about anyone who is reading and blog chatting about that claim has read.  I don't know if the pretty silly comment throwing the popular level journalism at me was supposed to upset me or not,  I suspect, coming from who it did, that it was.  What I learned from reading the Nature report leads me to conclude it doesn't support the claims made for it.

    Trainor and colleagues used the technique of electroencephalography (EEG) — electrical sensors placed on the scalp — to monitor the brain signals of people listening to streams of two simultaneous piano notes, one high-pitched and the other low-pitched, at equally spaced time intervals. Occasionally, one of the two notes was played slightly earlier, by just 50 milliseconds. The researchers studied the EEG recordings for signs that the listeners had noticed.

    To start with, the "music" used in the study, as described above,  was so minimalist that I doubt even Phillip Glass would count it as music.  He'd be wanting to wash his ears out with battery acid after a short time.  It isn't "music" in any sense of the word, it's hardly even a sound pattern.   I can guarantee you that any musician or even intelligent listener would start either filling the experience in with imagined sound or thinking about anything else within twenty seconds. What part that unobservable but very real distraction, not part of the study protocol would play in the validity of their findings is interesting to consider but impossible to account for.

    As music is an intentional activity, I doubt that a difference of 50 milliseconds could achieve the status of notice, never mind significance.  I doubt if it occurred in a musical context that even the most sophisticated of trained listeners could identify it.

    That detection by the brain showed up as a characteristic spike of electrical activity, known as a mismatch negativity (MMN), produced by the brain's auditory cortex about 120–250 milliseconds after the deviant sound reached the ear. It is a known indication that the brain senses something wrong — a kind of 'huh?' response that Trainor and her colleagues had previously investigated to detect listeners’ responses to 'errors' in pitch2.

    The researchers found that the MMN signals were consistently larger for the mistiming of a lower note than for a higher note. They also measured the participants’ ability to adjust their finger-tapping to deviant timings of notes, and found that it was significantly better for the lower notes.

    I kind of doubt that the researchers could come up with a way to connect what they found to the conscious experience of music as a person experiences it.  I think they found something, though I'd really like to look at their data and how they analyzed it before I came to any kind of conclusion about that.  I'd like to know how many times they did this with now many subjects, what the size of difference in responses they measured were, etc.  If they measured the results in the same subject over time if there was any difference on different runs of the experiment.   None of that is given in the report but this kind of research is often reported on the skimpiest of sample sizes and one-off runs.

    To make matters worse, in trying to associate what they found and the conscious experience of music, apparently the subjects weren't even supposed to pay attention to what they were hearing, they were actively distracted from it.

    The MMN does not depend on conscious recognition of a timing error — in fact, participants were told to watch a silent film during the tests and to pay no attention to the sounds they heard. And although Trainor says that “the timing differences are quite noticeable”, the MMN response precedes any conscious awareness of them.

    Well, excuse me, but if they're actively distracted from even listening to the sounds then what they were measuring has little to nothing to do with music as I listen to it or want to play or have anything to do with.  It's not even an experience of sound at the most banal of musical activities which are at least supposed to be noticed.  I think even the most banal of pop music is more of a musical experience than the experimental protocol addressed.   Take heart, Simps, even the junk you've made a career on is safe from this kind of "science".

    As I've said before, Aaron Copland noted that when a literary man puts two words about music together one of them will be wrong, I've said that when they try to turn it into science there's a good chance both of them will be.  This study has nothing to tell you about how people actually hear music or how music is made.  One reason that lots of music has a rhythm in the bass which is more often noticed on a basic level has more to do with the fact that usually bass lines are slower and more easily followed than the more complex lines above that, though that's hardly true across all music of all times, of all cultures as made by all musicians.

    Update:  Let's go over this part of the report in Nature again:

    That detection by the brain showed up as a characteristic spike of electrical activity, known as a mismatch negativity (MMN), produced by the brain's auditory cortex about 120–250 milliseconds after the deviant sound reached the ear. It is a known indication that the brain senses something wrong — a kind of 'huh?' response that Trainor and her colleagues had previously investigated to detect listeners’ responses to 'errors' in pitch2.

    They're talking about a differnce in timing of a 50 milliseconds.  Consider that the shortest note duration that I'm aware of a composer ever notating is the 128th note value, which I doubt could be played with exact precision so as to match a computerized or machine "correct" timing of it.  Human beings just simply don't play notes within that range of temporal "accuracy" and they don't really notice any difference.  You can fit many, many 50 millisecond differences into notes played with what is perceived to be complete accuracy and evenness.  The study deals with a range of temporal precision that is not achieved in human music making, no one can make their fingers or their ears work within those ranges of timing.  The differences they purport to measure are irrelevant to human-made music, they show that the scientists don't get it, at all.  

    Update 2:  Stupy and the Eschatots don't understand it, or wouldn't if they'd read it.  They match 4th grade reading and math skills with post-doc levels of conceit. 

    When "Free Speech" and "Agency" Really Mean "I Want To Rape Kids And Not Get Arrested"

    Explain what the difference is between someone excusing either the pedophile rape or the advocacy of pedophile rape of men who are deputed to be literary geniuses (no they weren't) and someone like Cardinal Bernard Law covering up for pedophile rapists because they happened to be priests?   I fail to see a difference except one will be the object of justified vilification and the other one will be given a pass.

    The hypocrisy of the use of pedophilia in the American, British and other media and the pseudo-left, that if you frame it as "free speech- free press" that's not only good but also, by some supremely twisted thinking, sacrosanct but if a Catholic priest or other religious figure does it, that makes it the greatest of crimes, is something that is certainly worth considering.  

    I have one standard for all of it, it is all a crime against vulnerable people and it should all be stopped and punished.  

    It is in no way surprising or unexpected that Milo Yiannopoulos and Alan Ginsberg both framed their advocacy of child rape and other depravity as championing "freedom of speech".   Here's what Ginsberg said in "Thoughts on NAMBLA".*  

    In the January 17, 1983, issue Time magazine, following the FBI disinformation campaign, attacked NAMBLA as a group involved in the "systematic exploitation of the weak and immature by the powerful and disturbed." That struck me as a fitting description of Time magazine itself. NAMBLA's a forum for reform of those laws on youthful sexuality which members deem oppressive, a  discussion society not a sex club. I joined NAMBLA in defense of free speech.

    Which is a blatant lie.  It was a group that wanted and still wants to eliminate the age of consent and the legalization of adults having sex with children SO THEY COULD HAVE SEX WITH CHILDREN WITHOUT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT GETTING ARRESTED.  The only reason an adult would try to have sex with a young child is to take advantage of their inability to give an adult level of informed consent.  There are people who are over the age of 18 who are unable to do that but it is a practical certainty that people younger, especially far younger than that, will not be able to do so and will be vulnerable to being duped or coerced or manipulated into or forced into doing things that are harmful to them and which will either injure them or, in many cases, end up killing them.  That is not a matter of "free speech" it is a matter of child abuse.   

    These days such advocacy of child rape and exploitation will talk about "depriving them of their agency" which shows how the pseudo-scientific language of market economics is compatible with the libertarianism which acts as an artificial substitute for what used to be liberalism.   I first noticed that when a middle-aged blogger with a PhD in economics from an Ivy League School wrote yet another of his posts decrying that it was illegal for men to have sex with young adolescents.  On a "liberal" blog.  I remember thinking that there was no way that men using young girls for sex was compatible with any liberalism I wanted anything to do with.  Not long after that I began to realize that most of what was called "liberal" these days was really libertarianism, it took reading several essays by Marilynne Robinson and others to realize that con job and shift in denotation started in the late 18th century. 

    The reasons that age of consent laws should be set and should be set at a sufficiently high age to prevent adults from exploiting children are exactly the same ones ones that justify laws prohibiting child labor and other laws protecting children from the exploitation by adults.  They are the same reasons that there should be different standards in judging criminal behavior by children because they cannot reason and think in a way expected of adults.  

    That the most overrated literary figure in the United States in the past century or someone like Gore Vidal makes a pitiful attempt to twist words to defend or promote their desire to exploit children, the slogan "free speech" will be the first one reached for because it is such an effective means of duping so many adults.  Adults in large numbers fall for that absurd ploy as used by such con-artists,  it was very effective until about the 1990s, when lots of adults would let it pass as long as it was not upper-class children who were the victims of it.  Since so many adult fell for that dodge,  imagine how vulnerable children are to the same kind of deception.   

    I distrust the FBI as much as anyone and think its present Director and large numbers of its agents probably belong in prison for screwing with the last election.   I distrusted them pretty much from the early 1960s but if they enforced laws that prevented the rape and exploitation of children, I'm all for that.  Ginsberg throwing up that acronym was another cover for what he was really advocating.  

    One of my old high school teachers told me she thought Ginsberg was "Overpraised and underworked" which is still the most valid critical assessment of his work I know of.  Having done what few of those who pose as his admirers have done, read more than HOWL and a few of the other poems in that book, just about everything he wrote after that is complete crap.   Someone sent me a link to the piece Ginsberg's college rival and enemy, the absurd Norman Podhoretz wrote several months after Ginsberg's death.  I stuck it out and read the interminable thing which is really mostly about Podhoretz.  While some of the background is interesting - if it's accurate - it really has nothing much to do with what I said.  I'm a traditional American style liberal egalitarian, Podhoretz is a right wing elitist.  We both might dislike Alan Ginsberg and his writing but I'm not sure we even agree on why he was a bad writer.  

    I think pretty much all of the beat stuff is awful.  I completely resent the attempts of some really crappy writers and people trying to expropriate the greatness of the jazz that was being made in those years as if the incredible discipline and brilliance of - mostly - black musicians who were some of the greatest artists in the history of music was theirs to exploit.  Nothing any of those white boys wrote comes close to the music as art or as virtuosic genius.   None of those white writers put in the time or discipline or self-sacrifice to be able to do something in words that matches what those musicians did in pitch and time.  None of them came up with results even approaching the level of the less profound jazz of that era.  Words about music tend to miss it entirely, words mimicking improvisation by those who never mastered words are worse.   Try reading more of Ginsberg than you'll find in a college anthology - if they're still bothering to include him in those, these days.   I'll bet you'll find it even harder than I found reading Podhoretz.  

    *  I will not link to pieces advocating the rape of children. 

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    The Mistake Trump Can’t Ever Walk Back

    Carla Bley - A Genuine Tong Funeral - Lament - Intermission Music

    A mutual friend told me that Larry Coryell died the other day.  I only met him once, I don't really remember much about it, I have to admit my attention was focused on another musician there.  He was a good guitarist who played with some really fine musicians.  His work with Gary Burton is his work that I like best.

    Composer, Piano: Carla Bley
    Bass: Steve Swallow
    Drums: Lonesome Dragon
    Guitar: Larry Coryell
    Vibraphone: Gary Burton